The Dungeons of Hell

 

slave-dungeon-in-elmina

 

I have been to a place that I have never been before.

I had to go in to the Oncology ward to have more scans and tests done, and because of financial reasons, I was taken to the Addington Hospital in Durban.
Understand this, I do not equate this hospital with the dungeons of hell.  In fact to the poorest of the poor, and to the sickest of the sick in our society, its is a beacon of last hope.    A place where care and treatment is given, free of charge, to those in dire need.  It is for them a beacon of shining hope and help.

Derelict, depleted old, and the long dark damp red-brick corridors brought to me what the dungeons of hell could be like.   The patients, moving in dim light and shadows, grave-faced, heavy burned, some uncomfortable and in silent pain, where there was no joy at all, patiently and stoically stood their turn for attention and treatment.

But there was too a great sense of efficiency of the systems at work.  Good work was being done in an organised and proficient manner, and getting the masses lined up for their treatment and care.   The Staff were patient, and kind.   Very kind, and understanding.   One  nurse in the Oncology ward, softly sang “put your care upon Jesus”
as she took blood samples.    I had a lovely imaginary picture of a little song-bird singing among the trepidation of the treatments that were to follow.   It gave comfort and brought hope, and smile to my face.
The ministry of soft song in suffering is powerful.

I went through the motions of the day, waiting many hours till my turn came   I sat in a waiting room that was filled with light.  It had a “sea-view”, but it was a rainy day and the day and the mood was sombre and a misty grey.   As I waited I saw the passing parade of the busy street in front of the hospital.   Life was carrying on as usual – traffic cops on duty, deliveries being made, visitors looking for sea-side parking.
I saw a new and understanding doctor, who had a heart for her patients, went through the motions, did the tests and x-rays.   Then finally referred to another hospital for follow up scans and tests.   A thorough investigation of my present condition, for which I am grateful.    And all the way through my trusty husband was there to help me get through the physical obstacles, with patience and endurance.

Once done, I was helped out to the car, where a car guard offered to help where he could, in the hope of a reward.    He was an elderly white-haired Indian man in a turquoise track suit, with hardship written on his face.   He was working in the rain for a pittance for his own survival – oh the hardships of poverty !

It is an experience that I do not cherish, but do so appreciate.   For in a moment in time,  it brought me closer to those who suffer in their poverty, and in the sicknesses and ailments.
It is in  poverty, sickness, disease and death that we may perceive the horrors of hell, where there is no joy, no hope and everlasting misery – all these linger in the dungeons of hell.

Song bird

Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me,
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those
who are bound.

 

 

 

 

The Apple Tree

 

apple_trees_how_to_prune_a_tree_Rocky_Mountain_Fruit_and_Vegetable_Gardening

 

Somewhere at the back of my mind there was a quote bothering me.   So I popped into Google to find a lead or two.  I came to the realisation that our language and literature, even be it a simple quote, may well be in a state of transition.   For the most part I found quotes from Steve Jobs of Apple computer fame, and other computer geeks who have transported us into another realm of language.    Words don’t mean what they use to mean.   And stories are in danger of becoming the fake news of the day.   My, how the world has changed.   We have evolved into another era.

The closest I came to finding the right words for the quote was by Robert Schuller:

Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God knows how many apples there are in a seed.

I remembered, the quote I couldn’t find, went a little further and spoke of apple trees and apple orchards.

Apple orchard

This analogy of the apple tree speaks to me of exponential potential growth, and it was something I wanted to share with my children.  Not that I have experienced it, only heard of it, but do know that generosity is a key to unlocking prosperity, and freedom from ‘the clutter of life’
Generosity as a principle of life, can unlock doors of wealth, and more so, a generous spirit.

I had recently listened to a debate on TV by a group of young Black people, who having endured the hardship of poverty, were now either educated or had well paid employment, asked the question “should they have to pay Black Tax’ – as they called it.   Black Tax is when children give back to their struggling families, help to ease the poverty and also help the remaining siblings at home.   Some were unreservedly for it, some a little reluctant, and some refused to pay back. The culture of giving creeps into the African-centric adverts on TV too, when you see a son buying his elderly Black mom a stove or a fridge.  And often you hear how the well- to-do grown up children take pride in buying a house for their family.
Of course it depends on the individual, there is no legal law that says it must happen – except the law of the heart.
And when appreciation has been nurtured, and generosity has been learnt, giving happens more easily.

I grew up in a time when saving was the smart thing to do.   There is nothing like having a little something in reserve for a rainy day.  At that time, it was just plain common sense, because eventually your money works for you – and not you for your money !!
When we went through our ‘ financial struggle years’ I resolved to start a small savings account, and made minuscule deposits.
I called it my Apple Tree account.    And for a long time it was partly dormant, and then very slowly began to grow tiny roots.   Whenever I could I would ‘water’ my Apple Tree with a small deposit.   It began to grow and now even has some apples on it – which I pick and enjoy from time to time.

My children, bless their hearts, have out of love, been watering my Apple Tree too, with generous deposits, that have caused my tree to flourish.    I am grateful for the apples that I can pick from its growth, but more, much more, I am delighted with their acts of generosity, that I know will stand them in good stead in their years to come.
May they too plant their own Apple Trees, and continue to cultivate the fruit of generosity, and see the benefits of it, for it says in Luke 36:8

Give,  and it will be given to you,
good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over
will be put into your bosom.
For with the same measure that you use,
it will be measured back to you.   

apple-tree-1

Food Glorious Food

 

The-Best-Chicken-soup-30

‘Food glorious food’ ….  goes the song from Oliver Twist, the musical film about an orphan boy who meets up with a scoundrel and ends up living  in a house for boys, and thieving for their master.   In one scene this young boy has the audacity to say  “Please sir, can I have some more ?”  –  the cry of hunger down the ages.
Based on a work by Charles Dickens, it is set in London, in times of dire poverty.   Its one of those musicals that seems to live on forever in the memory.

The song makes the point of how important food is to us.    If there is such a thing as an ultimate human experience, it is the taste of glorious food.   Apart from the fact that it gives us a feeling of well- being, nourishes our bodies, it fills our souls with satisfaction.    Food is essential for us to survive, on more than one level.

While most of us eat to live, there are some that live to eat.    Have you noticed the bombardment of foodie type TV programmes.    Everyone seems to have become a cook !
Someone once asked ‘where have all the cowboys gone?’  Men use to be about the business of plowing planting constructing and mining – earning a living by the sweat of their brow – now they all seem to be in the kitchen – cooking !
Of course food is big business – big business.   Perhaps because it tantalises our taste buds, stirs our appetites, that scream for instant satisfaction.   It is psychologically and sublimely used in advertisements to get us to buy buy buy!   And we do !

The burger seemingly has become the ‘king of foods’.   We watch some of the TV programmes, and I am amazed at the length they go to to make the best burger ever.
Smoking, slow cooking meat, spiced to the hilt, sauced up and piled up with pickles and garnishes.   Some are spectacular and no doubt delicious indeed.   But the extravagance of some borders on sheer gluttony.    The world seems to have gone crazy about extravagant food.   And I wonder if we haven’t lost something in our ‘elevated status’ of living.

maneating burger

None the less good food is a delight, and healthy food is a blessing.

vegetables-colorful

Although most seem to be on the ‘food glorious food bandwagon’  it ought to be coupled with a balance and a consideration for those who do not have enough food to eat.
More can and should be done by those who can, to give food to those who go without.  We shouldn’t be so self absorbed, as to blight out the world’s hunger problem.

World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world on 16 October in honour of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in 1945    At the 20th session of the FAO Conference, the idea was suggested of celebrating World Food Day worldwide.    It has since been observed every year in more than 150 countries, raising awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger.
Ref : Wikipedia.org/wiki/world food day

On another site, I read
The focus of the day is that food is a basic human right.  Yet in a worldwide of billions, over 820 million people worldwide suffer chronic undernourishment,  60% women and almost five million children under the age of five die of malnutrition related courses every day.
It is also important to note that while millions go hungry 672 million people suffer from obesity and a further 1.3 billion are overweight.
Ref : greening the blue.org/event/world-food day.

Statistics are fine, and give a glimmer of the problem of world hunger, but stats distance themselves from the real reality of hunger.
The explosion of Urban populations, because of unemployment, poor governance, migrations and such like, have brought the problem of hunger closer to the cities, closer to us, more than stats could do.      Social and rural development need urgent attention.

When unemployment hits home, perhaps more will be done in this area.
Recently, here was talk of the Banks going on strike !   The Banks striking – unheard of before !  All because of the digital technology age, that is threatening massive unemployment.  The closing of some mines, means thousands of breadwinners will be out of work.  One man interviewed said he was responsible for 16 mouths to feed in his camp.
When there is no work, there is no pay, people go hungry, and so crime will increase.
It seems an overwhelming vicious circle, that needs intervention.

One such intervention could be Governments introducing, insisting and assisting  in implementing community and home food gardens.   Active citizen participation.

The growing of healthy food.

City Food gardens

 

School gardens

 

community garden
These reminders from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations are all good and well, and bring attention to global problems, that seem to be on the increase.   But we are part of this world, even at the local level, and should keep an eye open for those who are hungry and in need.

 

cup cakes at OB

Psalm 34:8 says   Taste and see that the Lord is good.

If there is one way to know the goodness of God it is through the food we put into our mouths.   Food glorious food, it touches our souls and our senses, taste smell and is a delight to our eyes, for we instinctively know something good is coming.
So when we occasionally indulge ourselves in food glorious food, remember too,  those who are hungry,  and do a kind deed in multiply ways to ease their plight.

The next time we sit down to a hearty healthy meal,  let’s remember those who are in poverty and often go to bed hungry.   It will remind us to acknowledge and be thankful to God for His goodness to us, and to say a  little prayer   …. “For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful”.

The Feather-duster Man

 

Feather duster man

At one time the feather-duster-and-broom man was a slight phenomena in South Africa.  One would see him on almost every street corner.
Recently I was happy to spot another feather-duster-and-broom-man, and my thoughts turned to the economy.  Now here was a man who was trying to make a buck, despite the fact that he really had no hope of scratching a living out of selling feather dusters.   But that was not the point, or the reality of the situation.   He most likely lived on the few pence he made for the day, even if it was just paying for his transport to town to collect the dusters.   He had decided to grab at a chance to do an honest days ‘work’ – walking the streets and selling feather dusters, but in fact he was an entrepreneur,  he was creating a career – and one day that may well become the way of the future.

I find the Street People around us so interesting.

Car guard Urban
Meet a man called Urban, the friendly Car-guard,  at a local shopping centre.

There are the Car-guards at the shopping centre.   With a bit of organising, they work for a man, or company, who create opportunities for those who are unemployed.  Depending on the goodwill of the customers, whose cars they ‘guard’,  help unload the shopping trolley, courteously stop the traffic to let you out of your parking spot, and return the trolley to the shop, they can and do make a small survival living.   Most do it with a smile on their face, a polite greeting and a wave good-bye.    If you don’t have small change to give, some say,   ‘never mind next time’!

There are people who stand at the traffic lights, burnt by the sun, to beg for a penny or two.     There is a particular robot in the suburbs I ride through where a decent looking white lady, in a shoe-string top and trousers, stands unashamedly hoping for a bit of support from the passing traffic.
When I see her I often wonder what story she would tell, and why she does what she does to bring in a little finance.
Further into the inner city there are many scruffy looking young men, who, one can tell, have addiction problems.    My heart goes out to these young people.   What chance have they to make a decent life for themselves.   Life on the streets is hard, its a hell of its own.

Giving it some thought, I understand that there is a  strata in the art of making a living.
From the beggars at the street corners, to the feather duster man, the Car-guard, the Fruit and Veg Vendors, the Zimbabwe wire and bead weavers or  the African mamas that capture the tourist trade with their handcrafted talent  – these are those who have nanoscopic to miniscual to trickling to irregular  incomes – all trying to make a living and meet the high demands the economy makes to extract a pound of flesh from a half-loaf of bread needed to still hunger pains.
And although they may be on the bottom rung of the food chain, they form the bulk of the informal income, which if well conducted should be included in the greater scheme of the economy, with extra benefits and favour.

 

Fruit vendor SA

 

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That is just the bottom end of the economic level of any one country.     For  Poverty is everywhere.    But all is not doom and gloom.  There are the middle and upper and higher echelons in our societies, (that are far removed from the street level) – and that make a good living, and a ridiculously rich living, (those who can buy a Claude Monet painting for over a million dollars !!)   Albeit a very beautiful painting, how can such a price be justified, I ask.
When I saw this on the global news, I said to my son, just hang on to my ‘ pencil artwork’ in enough years it may well be worth a foolish man’s fortune!

I disdain negativity.   But now and again, I despair of the future.   With every societal revolution beginning with the Industrial Revolution – the discovery of steam power, electricity and the then world-widening trade routes, to the Automotive Revolution,  the Sexual Revolution of the sixties, that loosened and cracked up our moral foundations, marking the place for the perversity and confusion to come,  to the current Information Technology that banishes all geographic and financial boundaries to the nether-sphere.  And now the foreseeable future of the A I  – Artificial Intelligence,  and, even more scary the possible self-annihilating age of the oncoming Quantum-Computer !

Rich Poor sign

And its all called  ‘Progress’.   There is no doubt that much benefit and convenience (the up-side)  have been derived from these discoveries in our history.    But when I look back over these man-made wonders,  intelligentsia and innovations  – and their out-workings,  I  see more people unemployed.   Is unemployment with its desegregation the malady of our times :  no work, no money, no future no hope – more poverty and despair, riding on its wake of drunkenness addictions and depression within our societies ?

Will the future hold more Street People, like the feather duster and broom man ?
But he has with him the tenacity to do an honest day’s work, with a dream of a better life.  He has hope, and that will carry him through to a better tomorrow.
So the next time you see him, consider buying a feather duster or broom,  even if you don’t need one,  you will be fuelling the future with hope !
Like poverty, dust is everywhere, and settles to grime if you don’t dust and sweep regularly.      Clean homes gather dust too !

 

Broom man
Mr Blessing Ngubane, creates hope for the future.

So support the entrepreneurs,  those ‘career creators’,  for one day, in the fast approaching robotic future,  (remember robots they don’t ask for wage increased, don’t need medical aid, don’t protest, or strike for rights, – they are the perfect employee !) …  who knows we may all have to become entrepreneurs with tenacity and hope in our hearts.

But don’t despair with me, keep in mind that the future is ultimately in God’s hands,  and He knows the end from the beginning, we just need to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to us, and to consider the poor and the needy among us.

Psalm 41: 1  Blessed is he who considers the poor,
The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.

 

pink feather duster

 

 

Touching Opulence

Breaking paradigms is often a good thing.

I have always had a soft spot for the poor and needy in community, and had in years past been privileged to go into areas where poor people lived and worked and raised their families.  I had always come away humbled and grateful at the same time.
I realised that it would take a mind shift to go from poverty to progress, even prosperity, and that it was a long road.  Governments and policies can change, but having a poverty mind-set will keep communities in poverty.

Over the years I have come to know that there are levels of poverty, and there are levels of wealth.   That is the way of life.  Secretly I have always had an inclination to regard the rich with a bit of disdain.  Why I do not know.  Perhaps it is a wrong perception, perhaps it was unfair judging of those who think they have it all, but more often than not,  have the arrogance to match it.  There is nothing wrong with being wealthy.  But it brings with it a lurking arrogance, that can morph into  greed, and that will stealthily steal from man’s character.   Few can wear wealth well.

But then I suppose, there are degrees of arrogance in all of us, whether rich or poor or somewhere in between.

In recent years I have had the privilege to live among those who seemingly have more than enough wealth.   It is good to live in an area where money can buy and maintain a beautiful environment, – necessarily so for the many wealthy tourists who come to visit, and spend their money in our ‘little village’

Umhlanga Rocks has an interesting history.  The Oyster Box Hotel is one of the oldest, and one of the beautiful hotels where the rich and famous reside when they visit our shores.  The iconic Umhlanga Light House is right on the beach in front of the hotel, which makes it that more special.
In years gone by, the hotel was first a shack, then a tea garden, owned by a brother and sister.   Later,  it became a restaurant.
In 1954 the hotel was built, and has grown into a five-star status hotel.

Beach & lighthouse
It has always been a little dream of mine, to one day, have afternoon tea at the famous Oyster Box Hotel.   Well I can tell you that dreams do come true.
My son Gareth and his friend Kerry came for a visit.   Now Gareth has an inclination to spoil, and Kerry loves cake,  as I do !   He decided to arrange for Kerry and I to have High Tea at  – the Oyster Box !!

Entrance Oyster Box
A sense of old colonial charm.

Near the stairway, in the lobby,  was a stunning floral arrangement.  At first glance it looked like a giant pineapple.  It was made up of bright red, and costly Antirrhinum flowers.

flowers at OB
It was a fascinating experience.   Just walking into the hotel is an assault on the sense of  opulence.    It speaks of bigger, better and brighter.  The lobby had, within it, an alcove surrounded by mirrored glass.  Glass table tops and white furniture gave the impression of a transparent but secret meeting place.

Lobby

In The Palm Court, the palm pots were bigger than usual, the ceilings higher with many fans cooling the air, and the palms grew high and large, to give a sense of tropical fullness.

Palm court palms
The Palm Court, where the High Tea is served.

A man was playing a piano in the Tea room, as we were ushered in and shown our reserved table.   The tea cups were of fine porcelain, with a pretty pink flower design.   A white starched napkin, was unfolded and placed on my lap by a friendly hostess.
You could choose your tea of preference from a box of assorted teas that was presented to you with a gloved hand.   Boiling water arrived in a little glass tea-pot, which you could pour when you were ready to do so.
The cake and savouries, were all arranged on a centre table, that were literally loaded on all sides, with all kinds of everything delightful and delectable.  A feast for the eyes and the  palate.

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A delightful and delectable feast of cakes and treats.

cup cakes at OB

My words could not do justice to the charm of the day,  so I hope these few pictures will give you a better appreciation of the opulence I touched in the Palm Court of the Oyster Box Hotel, one sunny afternoon in Umhlanga Rocks, situated this side of paradise !

Pretty Kerry.JPG
Lovely Kerry, my companion in an encounter with opulence.

An old song I once heard, went something like this  ‘ You gotta have a dream to have a dream come true.’     So dream on, it may come along quicker than you think.
And thank you to Gareth and Kerry for making my dream come true !!

Go and break some paradigms, and extend the horizon of your appreciations.

Phenomena – The winds of change

 

Coconut palm trees blowing in a breeze against a blue sky

 

Often, as the year comes to an end, we are presented with reviews of the current events of the past year.   I suspect that this year it will be no different.    We have experienced some strange phenomena going on in our world at large.

Curious to me, is the phenomenon of the Global Migration taking place.
Africa seems to be migrating to Europe.
Central Americans are walking, to America in what they call a caravan of people.
The devastating Syrian war that have caused huge Refugee camps to become new neighbourhoods for the victims of war

Why,  I wonder ?
I heard it said, that it is because  the poorest of the poor cannot tolerate their poverty one minute more, and are willing to risk life and limb to make a change for themselves and their families for the better.   Crime and oppression have just become to unbearable in their own countries.  Power and greed stifles, maims and kills !  And who could, or should live in those conditions ?

Migration poses enormous problems as it becomes a huge challenge, – but so to a change in the cultural exchange of the receiving countries.
It is unchartered waters where the solutions and outcomes are not known, and long-term effect will bring about irretrievable results.
What will a melting pot of languages and cultures mean in the course of time ?  Will there be conflict, for sure, will there be confusion, for sure, but no one knows, as yet the reasons or the results for this phenomena called Migration.  Will it mean a new global village ?  A loss of nationalism, and thus identity ?  No one knows the future.

The world, in its oh so developed state, have forgotten the poor.  The mass of the people of our  global world are poor and been ignored, and purposely, and conveniently forgotten.
We think we are so smart, with our smart phones and devices of mind-boggling technological  proportions, that in essence leave the people of our world in a poorer place.  Poorer in unemployment, poorer in equality, poorer in integrity !
I am not against progress and development, but that surge should be for all people, not just the rich, the famous and the powerful.

Muslims are being detained in China, and are undergoing a de-doctrination, in large “schools” being built to accommodate this plan.
Jews despicably murdered in their own synagogues, recently in Pittsburgh.
American politics have turned a corner in contemporary party politics, with targeted pipe bomb scares.  Maybe harmless, maybe not, but it is incomprehensible political warfare of a new kind.

Nationalism is another surprising and interesting phenomenon standing its ground.
Trump’s America and Britain’s Brexit strongly reflect this phenomenon.    Just when the globalisation of the whole world seemed unstoppable, with its fast trade, tsunami-like  waves for financial gain, that blows consumerism into a frenzy of more and more and more !   Is a resistance being raised to being dominated and manipulated by the money god of world economics?

Cyber information is perhaps the most alarming phenomena of our time – all about the subtle influencing of gullible consumers, advertising, branding and marketing, not to mention sinister manipulation, politicking and power – and eroding the facts and the truth about almost any given matter.    Fake news seems to be an acceptable thing ! And  at times the gossip on the social media is a ‘source’ for the news scoop of the day !

Morality has been turned upside down, reflecting the good as bad and the bad as good – what is trending is right !  The moral compass is out of sight, even some would say lost.
And to my mind, that is the saddest of the modern phenomena of the times we live in today.

The Crime and Corruption phenomena, although global, is very evident here in South Africa.   To watch the local news is a depressing experience.  News moves at lightning speed through our politics, which changes every day.  Our gruesome community stories, mostly about poverty, crime and community protests and unrest –  reveals the mountain of corruption we are enduring at present.
In fact, South Africa, seemingly innocently unaware, has been looted under a cloud of skilful strategic corruption of magnum proportions, –  for almost a decade now !
Now that the threads of corruption and crime are being unravelled, by an astute new leadership, we are left gobsmacked at the enormity of this wasteful expenditure – and the depravity of the sons of shame in our nation – as the poor are even poorer than before.
Yet there is hope with moments of the comical, the kindest of humanities and of course our invigorating and beloved Sport, that brings us a light refreshing.
Our news, most times depressing, but perhaps  ‘all sides of  diverse and vibrant’, would be a better catch phrase to describe the South African news.

But, not to be to much of a pessimist I need to mention another strange phenomenon that
has taken place in our country this past year.   Huge people-gathering events have taken place when thousands answered the call for prayer,  seeking mercy and sustenance for our leaders, our people and our country.
At the last gathering in October, prayers were said for a spirit of forgiveness for the peoples of South Africa  –  to give forgiveness, and to receive forgiveness from each other.    For racism, murder and evil to be nullified, and for a new day of progress and development for all South Africans.

To my mind, the best kind of phenomenon is Prayer, that ushers in the winds of change !

2 Chronicles 7:14
If My people who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray,
and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven,
and heal their land.

Red rose

 

Words to Durban

Hello Durban,

Sometimes it takes words of affirmation to create an atmosphere for going from good to great.  You may be the Cinderella of all the cities in South Africa, but you have the power of attraction for those who need time off from the merry-go-round of life.
But you are more than that.   You are a kaleidoscope of hope, of contrasts and diversity, set in a paradise of green.

Durban you are a port on the East Coast of Africa.

Durban Port
Ships from afar, carriers of merchandise, wait their turn to enter your port, to foster the economy of the South.  And hope does not go unnoticed as the number of these ships have increased dramatically over the years – reminding us that indeed you are
‘a market place for nations’.

Container ship

A  city of lay-back laziness that can trap the diligent and industrious person with a lethargy brought on by the gentle tropical climes of a warm ocean current.   “Tomorrow is another day” well may be the creed you live by – and yet !  The steady onward everyday flow of the inevitable, continues to urge you to perform your duties with diligence.  Your  history is rich, your position is well place for the growth of a new emerging world on the African continent.
Your Oil Refineries are strategic,  as are your marketable industries on the south side of your city.    The southbound road takes your travellers back on a memory road, to old favourite holiday resorts, that have filled up many family  photo albums with sweet memories of lazy sun-filled bucket and spade holidays.

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Quite uniquely, in the heart of your city, are the Durban Botanical Gardens.   Noticed, apart from its magnificence,  is the peace that lingers there.  Now if ever the Good Lord would want a cathedral to live in, it would surely be in this majestic cathedral of green  –  a garden with its huge trees that were planted some 300 years ago.  It is one of Africa’s oldest botanical gardens, and I suspect by far the best on the continent.

Your inner city now scarcely reflects the former heyday of your holidaymakers’ favourite destination.  It has become crowded and derelict, as most inner cities are, with the influx of those desperate for employment and cheap accommodation.   Yet, two or three blocks up, on your sea-side,  are found well-kept paved promenades.  Walkways with tall hotels, all with sea-views, that tell a different story of who you were, and now want to become.

A city caught with one foot in a developed world, the other foot still entangled in poverty.   And indeed is this not the state of any modern city in the world of today ?   A world on a runaway train toward globalisation no matter the cost – for there is always a cost, there is always a price to pay for progress and development !

colonial house
Now going northward  – the touch of your colonial history is still markedly seen in your suburban landscape of the yesterday-wealth. Grand homes in beautiful tree-lined streets with lush green gardens, steeped in your recent history of refined living. Planted and painted into a part of the master portrait of South Africa’s history of diversity. Durban you are a world showcase for diversity.

But time moves on.
And a new era, for some, has arrived.   A time of unprecedented sophisticated living, as seen in the great shopping mall of Gateway Theatre of Shopping, some say the largest in the southern hemisphere, and the brand new developments of the Pearl towers for renowned accommodation.

The Pearls

Umhlanga Rocks reveals your ability to transform yourself, yet again, into an    international  tourist destination with its new modern high-rise Pearl towers and hotels, –  contrasted by the ever loved ‘little village’ where  the locals still meet and converse over a pint of brew.

Light house

Walebone Pier

A promenade of note with its iconic Whalebones Pier that enables one to walk on water!    The recognised landmark of  Umhlanga Rocks, the red and white light-house, a beacon of light,  near the world-famous Oyster Box Hotel.  No expense is spared, nothing but the best is offered to presidents and kings, and the visitors of Europe and the Elsewheres of the world.

Still northward bound on route to the new King Shaka International Airport., the outskirts of the city give a show of brilliant green that is seen in the waving sugar cane fields, and the rolling hills that call out ‘ go the distance !’
sugar cane

Beautiful are the green hills of Kwa Zulu Natal – the green Province with its emerald-green beauty and  flowing hills, a setting fit for prosperity – equally so for the penny and for the soul.

Green Emerald

Going further north through the sugar cane fields,  the main road will bring us to the mushrooming town of Ballito Bay, one of South Africa’s fastest growing modern real estate developments.

But if we are astute we will notice the road signs that take us off the main highway to settlements and townships that do not enjoy an acclaim to wealth.

Kids at Shacks

And if we travel far enough we may encounter the rural folk of another world.  A folk that have not yet made the leap from poverty to ‘progress’ –  but have so much to offer with their rich cultural heritage.

Rural Hills
The very wide gap from the arrogant and unsaturated rich in their affluent towers and malls to the simplistic living of the rural inhabitants is a screaming silent reality.                                                                                         Rural KZN Acat.jpg

Acat veggie growing

Inequality is a stamp on all our record sheets.
And it is in this ever-widening gap that a paradigm shift  needs to occur, a miracle needs to happen, so that you can go from good to great.   Pay attention also to the needs of the poorest of the poor, so that they can rise up and experience a kind of progress too.

 Herein lies your miracle,  bridging the gap between two worlds,  if not three,  – the haves, the have-nots, and the have-yachts !

Sailing-Yacht

Nevertheless all worlds can offer their own version and contribution toward  ‘being rich’  –  whatever that may mean,  each in their own way.  For sometimes the rich are not rich, and the poor are not poor.  Sometimes the ‘developed world’  has much to learn about being  “civilised”,  the knowing of   ‘Ubuntu’  –  respect – simple courtesy, simple humanity !   Someone once said, ‘ courtesy is the first rung on the ladder toward civilisation ‘  – something the 4×4  riders, taxi drivers and road-ragers need to know and understand !

As a City you have kept up with your own transformation – indeed you have to do so, for your saving grace is in the lucrative revenue that lies in the holiday and tourist trade,  robust business and employment, and of course the fine revenues from the Ports and Customs.

But most noteworthy of all are your peoples – a vast array of cultures  within your social perimeters,  which is  the very fabric of your rich design,  all gems in the crown of your disposition.
Zulu culture

The Zulu people, with their ancestral and stout warrior history with colourful beads that tell their stories;

Talana-Festival-Dundee-Zululand-KZN-5

The rowdy yet gentle influence of the British, intertwined into your history.

Indian sari

 

 

Bunny chow

 

 

 

 

 

The colourful vibrancy of the Indian culture, with their special cuisine of aromatic spices, curries and  of course the famous Durban Bunny Chow.

KZN politics

The African People with their new-found vehement political clamour, coming to terms with power, and what that truly means, moulding the nation for tomorrow.

Indeed a beautiful mosaic of cultures, living side by side by the sea, in peace and harmony.    Amazing microscopic worlds within a world, called Durban.

SA's sports people.jpg

Your people and your children are easy, fun-loving, and sunshine kids – and daring too.  Totally Sports obsessed, with any reason to walk, run, ride, swim, surf or canoe an epic event –  a case in point the Comrades Marathon.  A marathon of well over 90 kilometres between  Durban and the hilly countryside of Pietermaritzburg.  Who thinks out such things !!?

SkyCar_2
Sky Car at the Moses Mabhida 
Moses Madheba Stadium
Moses Mabhida Stadium

Moses Stadium

Great are your vistas for sports, but more so are your spectacular views of land and seascapes that lend wings to those who need to be lifted higher.

Durban, you are like a brilliant green emerald gem,  emeraldan often overlooked gem, among the chief cities of South Africa.   Slowly going about your daily business of business, culture and sport, with the determined purpose of welcoming your visitors from afar with warmth and hospitality.  Hospitality that inborn trait you carry off so well.

No better place to see, no better place to be other than in  “Durbs by the Sea”  as our upcountry  folk would say, when they pack for their annual holiday to crowd out your beaches with abandoned glee.

Durban visitors

 

Big boat.jpg

Durban, as the sunshine state of South Africa, you should surely be on the ‘must see list’ of the global community.  You may take your place with pride, among the ranks of other destinations who strive for the recognition of  ‘most beautiful place in the world ‘  – nonetheless contrasted by ‘new worlds’ waiting to be born into prosperity.

When your visitors step into this green paradise, they will surely hear the wind and the waves softly whisper :  “You are welcome here”.

Go Durban !green-emeralds stones

 

 

Care Africa

Green Africa map

Life is made up of small things.
Everything you do matters.

Africa is a big continent.  It is a block of land that captures you.  Whether you are in the north or in the south of it it will lay claim to a corner of your heart.   I have heard of South Africans who leave Africa for more appealing shores, but often, very often have the yearning to come home again.   Its challenges, its diversities and its humanities, is like a magnet that draws all kinds of human emotions from the heart that has at its roots the most scary and at the same time the most amazing appeal.   Or perhaps, for me, its just home.
Famous words of Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa : “I am an African”
brings with it many connotations, because Africa has many connotations – anybody can be anybody in Africa.  Its diversity creates space for this, yet it also creates fragmentation, for diversity does not necessarily mean unity.   The trick is to bring diversity into a patchwork for unity.   I am not an African.  But I am a South African.  A white South African, does that make me an African ?

Nevertheless, Africa is a place for expression.  Africa will find you out !  There is room for everyone, for every kind under the sun in Africa – the good, the very good, the bad and the very bad, the place where humanity is at war with itself, and mirrors that for the world to see and to watch.

Love it or hate it Africa is the place that calls for attention.  And at the same time offers opportunity to express that humanity one way or another.

Many years ago now, I came across MAF and signed up for their newsletter.  What is MAF ?
An extract from their 2015 Annual  Report sums it up consicely .
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is an international Christian organisation bringing help and hope to some of the poorest and most remote communities in the world….
We work with hundred of missions, churches, local groups, relief & development organisations and national government agencies.   Together we deliver practical medical and spiritual care in places with the deepest human needs ” – Prof. Polla Roux.

Furthermore to this is a very brief snippet of its history, supplied by the MAF office in South Africa:
In 1945 Murray Kendon, a New Zealander flying with the RAF Coastal Command during World War 2, wondered if the power and versatility of aircraft would only be used for conflict and carnage.   After realizing this dream was indeed God-given, he accepted the challenge and Mission Aviation Fellowship was born.
In 1970 David and Beryl Luke developed the MAF SA programme in the Transkei and it then moved to Johannesburg in the late ’70s.   In 2011 MAF saw the need to develop a programme in South Africa and the Flying for Life project was developed.
We currently work in the Vhembe District in Limpopo, taking in missionaries, churches, medical professionals and other organisations to help sustainably uplift the community.
Looking ahead, we are wanting to expand our eye doctor clinic to an additional hospital,
and extend into other provinces in South Africa. “

 

Care Africa Purple Bags
The Care Africa project is a small random project that encourages people to “grow a garden in your yard,  grow a garden in your heart”,  and encourages growing vegetables for food, and reading the Bible for growing the soul.   Both very necessary for human growth and sustainability – social development in an wholistic sense.
Recently I met up with Maxine Holman from MAFSA, and could give her two care bags to grow the concept of Care Africa.
Big or little deeds of kindness, whether a Flying Mission or a packet of spinach seeds, can make a difference in Africa.

I reckon poverty’s first priority is to combat hunger, and the growing of vegetables whether in a car tyre, an individual yard, or a community garden, will go a long way to addressing hunger, so prevalent in Africa today.  

In today’s shaky economic climate it makes sense to save cents by growing your own vegetable garden  – and together with reading the Word of God everyday you will begin to create a healthy, survival, sustainable and a good life.

Life is made up of small things.   What you do matters.

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Grow a garden in your yard,  Grow a garden in your heart,  and so join the Care Africa project.
 Start today, and let CareSA know how your gardens grow.   Grow well, eat well, share well
Happy gardening !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change Your Mind, Change Your World.

August 2015

Change will happen, with or without us.

Circumstances can so entrench our thinking into accepting what seems to be the inevitable amid the stark demanding facts of life, that a change of mind is out of the question.   But, I ask, what is the use of having a mind, if you cannot change it ?  And every woman in the room will agree with me !
We can change our minds, our thinking, and so to change our worlds.

Change is inevitable when embarking on a road of new discoveries.
The subtle change may begin to happen when we are disgruntled with the status quo, a sure signpost on the road of change.  But more often than not change will first happen on the inside of us. Then as new challenges are explored more will be revealed of what is on the inside.   If we pay close attention, it will become a duel journey of self-discovery, sometimes surprising, sometimes scary !   Change brings with it a moving of boundaries, and that can be so uncomfortable.

It is quite a struggle to change a mindset, especially in the field of dire poverty, whether you are poor, or are working with the poor and needy people in community.  Many are stuck in the mindset of poverty, but this has to change when we develop the mindset of progress, let alone prosperity – which will require yet another mind leap.
Instead of ‘poverty’ being the dominating  mindset, what will happen if we should replace it  with ‘potential’.   In other words not look at the circumstances but at the people, and what’s in the heart of the people.  That will be a rich treasure-find indeed. And then would we arrange our minds, our perspectives, our lives and our service differently ?

Poverty is often invisible, until you go out and look for it.  I happened to be in the “down-town” of Durban, and saw the derelict neglected condition of the buildings, the scattered refuse, and the sight of a poor humanity etching out a living for itself, amid a scene set for crime, corruption and moral decay.   And yet just three blocks up was the wonderful promenade of palm trees, sunny beach umbrellas, ice cream, and happy kids. Row upon row of posh expensive hotels, that are caught up to form the bubble of excellence to impress the tourists.   But lets not be harsh on Durban,  every town has its “down-town” and its “up-town”.  Poverty is rife, everywhere,  if we look we will see it.
And its a huge global condition !  What are we going to do about it ?
So to change poverty to progress we are going to have to change our minds, our perspectives, our goals and  our actions.

The road marked Entrepreneur, such a trendy word on the lips of government, futurists and the unemployed youth, is a long steep journey out of poverty.   But what does it embrace?  What will it require to make the change from community development (giving to the poor) to entrepreneurial development (helping people on to self-help and own development).  In the end, if progress is the goal, then what will be the result of a nation chasing only after economic development, and leaving behind the “rich” wholeness of community – even if its poor and lacking in consumables.   There needs to be a plan for holistic social development alongside the national economic plan, or else all our futures will be lopsided, out of balance with inequality crime and corruption getting the prize of the century… again!
New thinking is required, a new road needs to be followed to see if there is the better future in “progress”,  for poverty is not an option.  We need to put people first, see their potential, which is the key to unlocking great treasures, and we need to  “nourish hope and enthusiasm for creative expression, or simple entrepreneurship”  – words of the writer James Patterson.

If we can only keep our heads, and our values in tack.  Money isn’t everything!
As we progress we must keep a hold on our “ubuntu”, our humanity, our integrity, our wholeness.  For as we have so vividly seen, money and power bring with it greed and corruption, which sadly is the state of our money gobbling global village as we know it today.

I have found it not any easy road, as I have naively begun my small entrepreneurial journey. Often I feel like just giving up.  Someone once said, – ” since I’ve given up hope, I feel a whole lot better” !!   It would be so much easier to just give up.  Really? – but no not just yet.

So CareSA Designs has produced a few new items for the 2015 season.    They are pretty summer  “infinities” or round scarves. They are done in a thin cotton yarn that produces a soft gentle neckline accessory.  I have created new light “shoulder wraps” done in a loose stitch, that can be  worn as a huge winter scarf too.  So two in one, – summer wrap or winter scarf.   I have  done them in textured yarns that make them snug yet light, unique and interesting.  Making a debut is the Bag Range, for the young and not so young.  Done in bright colours, some a shoulder sling bag, some just a handy purse.  Nice for gifts.
Part of the proceeds from the sales go to a fund for community service, especially those who work with the poor and needy in our society.

The trend is Entrepreneurial,  the theme is the potential of creativity, lets see if it brings us on the road to progress…even prosperity ?

What is the potential that lies dormant in your creativity ?  Explore and start your journey of discovery, and be amazed  – change your mind, change your world !

The Garden of Your Heart

Just to keep track of the Care Africa movement project I am continuing with the concept of Care Gardens.  The main focus of the project is to encourage people, especially in Africa, where there is so much poverty, to plant a care garden in their yards as a means to combat poverty.   By not only providing food there is much to learn from the science of nature, from the soil, the seed and the benefits of good nutrition.   For instance, to produce a good healthy crop of vegetable plants that flowers e.g. tomatoes, brinjals, strawberries etc. you may add to the soil the following : Half a cup of Ammonia mixed with 2 cups water,  300 ml beer, and 1 cup Epsom Salts.  Mix well and add 30 ml of this mixture to 5 litres of water, and use to feed fruiting plants.  This is a recipe that a Virologist gave me, I tried it and had the tastiest tomatoes ever. Go ahead try it. Get practical and Happy Gardening!

All gardens need to be cultivated, those in yards, and those in hearts.  Just as the soil needs to be nourished, so too does the soul need to be nourished.   Take a little time out and do an exercise in solitude, in nature if you can.  Quietly take note of what you feel, see, hear, touch, smell and  taste, then say thank you – say thank you for all the blessings that are just lingering there for you.  Be sure to add value to your soul by listening to uplifting music, reading good books, reading the Bible everyday will be like medicine for your soul for it is full of wisdom, strength and comfort whenever your soul needs it.  I take it everyday, I call it my “Gos pills”! My soul can’t do without them.

When tending to your soul be on the look out for poisonous plants, especially in the Garden of Despair.   Some deep seated seed grow deep roots in dark places, in fact thrive on and feed off the dark and negative thoughts.  Watch out for these.  They are toxic, dangerous and poison to the soul – and will effect those in proximity to your garden!   Call your Gardener at once.   Toxic thoughts come from bad memories, and can pop up at any time.  Recognise them, look for the roots from where they have grown so that He can pull them out – roots and all.    Then apply the good ointment of Forgiveness.  This is essential, as Forgiveness is a antiseptic, antibacterial anti viril and essential for cleaning out the wound in the soul.  Sprinkle the wound with a dusting of thanks too as this accelerates the healing.  Be constantly on the look out for other pathogens like Jealousy, this is an ugly plant,  Anger that can quickly turn to Hatred – quite potent,  Disappointment – often camouflaged in full sight, and the trailing Resentment that can entangle a choke other healthy plants in your garden.

Tend to your soul, its the essence of you.   Happy Gardening!